I am an Executive High-Performance Coach and have enjoyed watching coaching become a popular development tool for executives and entrepreneurs. As more and more organizations catch on coaching will become the norm and not the exception.
Even though coaching for executives is not a new trend it can still be quite confusing and daunting. The coaching industry is not regulated and therefore many coaches are making promises that their services cannot deliver. In this article, I want to help you better understand what executive coaching is about and aid you in making a great decision.
Why Executives Should Consider Coaching
Let’s start with why you should consider executive coaching (whether you are an entrepreneur or executive).
Clients approach me for a variety of reasons.
But if I had to, I would group the reasons into three categories:
Change is hard. Always.
Accountability makes it easier because of our built-in desire to not disappoint others. So, many executives turn to coaching as a way of holding themselves accountable for achieving their lofty goals and to support them through change.
Coaching accountability is different from traditional accountability. I speak about this quite frequently.
Traditional accountability says – you have not done what you said you would do therefore you should feel shame and guilt.
Coaching accountability says – you have not done what you said you would do let’s see what is getting in the way of you shifting from intention to doing.
Many executives are so adept at what they do that they start feeling bored. Not a great sign.
Bored executives look for things to do and often in the process, they lead their organizations astray or dilute the focus of the teams they are supposed to lead.
Instead of looking for the new, coaching challenges you to be better, faster, and more focused at the things that matter.
It can be lonely at the top. But I am sure you know that (and have felt) that by now. Coaching can provide a much-needed reprieve from the stresses at work and an opportunity to step into a space that carries no judgment or bias.
Other Reasons To Consider Executive Coaching
Some of the other reasons that you might want to seek out coaching include:
Thought leadership: We are living in a time where opinions and ideas matter. Not only for visibility within your own organization but also for whatever the future might bring. Thought leadership is personal branding for executives.
Managing Relationships: The hardest thing about being a leader – is leading people. Make no mistake, this is a skill that can be learned. However, few invest in really developing this side of themselves.
A Leadership Philosophy: You cannot lead without a great understanding of what leadership is. Whether you are in a leadership position for the first time or have been leading for years, there is always scope for improvement.
Self-development: Last but definitely not the least. I have a firm belief that the growth of your organization is tied to your personal development. Your personal development means reassessing your beliefs, values, and attachments. Revising the actions you take on a daily basis and making sure that they align with your goals. And finally, making sure that you can sustain high-performance in high-pressure environments.
What Does Coaching For Executives Look Like?
As you might expect coaching comes in a variety of flavors.
The three most common approaches are:
Once off coaching sessions: I’d recommend that you stay away from this approach. Coaching has to be a long term investment that you make into yourself and your career. Although I am sure that you will find value in one session, it can never compete with the results obtained from consistently stepping into the coaching arena.
Structured programs: Many coaches will offer coaching packages or programs. This is usually a program that focuses on obtaining a specific goal and has a set timeline and cost. I use this approach for my Coaching Pathways. Clients get to choose from one of three different outcomes that they want to focus on (being a better leader, improving performance, living and leading with more intention).
Cadence coaching: This is another approach that I am in favor of. Cadence coaching means that you meet up with your coach at set intervals for e.g. once a month. The sessions are built around your needs and typically there is a nice follow-through from previous sessions. I do monthly coaching calls with clients too.
You will find that most coaches combine their approaches to suit the needs of their clients. So, whether you are looking for a more open-ended approach to coaching or want to work on a very specific goal or task, you will find an approach to match your desires.
How Is Executive Coaching Delivered?
I won’t spend much time on this.
Most coaches will have an option for in-person as well as digital coaching.
I opted to mainly coach digitally from the day I started my coaching practice. This has served me and my clients very well.
Studies have found that there is no difference in the coaching outcome of digital coaching as compared to in-person coaching. This was even demonstrated back in 2011 when we didn’t have the amazing technology and internet speeds of today.
What Does Executive Coaching Cost?
This is one of those “it depends” kind of answers.
There are multiple factors that will determine how much you pay for coaching.
The Coach’s Approach: As you might expect you will pay a different fee for a set program vs a monthly coaching session.
Experience of the coach: The more experienced the coach, the more they will charge you.
Qualifications of the coach: This essentially speaks to what your coach has achieved and could include writing a book, an academic qualification, or the organizations they have previously worked with.
So, let’s talk about specific numbers.
Although this article by Harvard Business Review is slightly dated it states that the typical cost of executive coaching is between $500 and $750 per hour.
This seems about right.
Having said that there are many coaches that will charge way more than that.
And it’s worth every dollar.
Frequently Asked Questions About Executive Coaching?
I always encourage my clients to interview me (or any other coach) that they might want to work with. Do not simply believe what you see on a website or on social media.
Below are some questions that I have received from clients over the years.
What results can I expect from executive coaching?
I believe that what coaching does really well is to create clarity. When we have clarity we can then act with purpose and intention. However, the doing part is still up to you and therefore the results you can expect from coaching is also up to you.
Be very wary of coaches who promise you a multiple of X return on your investment into coaching. Many studies have shown that the return on investment into coaching is almost always a positive one.
The real return on investment is that you get to accelerate your growth both personally and professionally. That you will improve your relationships and ultimately find yourself showing up in life with more intention simply of just living and leading on autopilot.
What is the difference between executive coaching and mentoring?
At a low level, there is a big difference.
Mentoring is about imparting wisdom gained from experience. It’s the elder guiding the young.
Coaching at this level is more about being a soundboard and allowing someone to find their own answers through skillful questioning.
However, at a high-level, the lines can become quite blurred.
This is because your coach would be doing you a massive disservice if they didn’t bring all of their knowledge and experience into a coaching session. I often say that a coach is a repository of ideas. They have successfully helped other executives to solve problems and overcome obstacles. So why would they not present these ideas to you?
At the end of the day, a skilled coach will know how to introduce ideas for you to interact with without being explicit in telling you where to go. It’s not our job to impose our agenda on you. It’s our job to tease out your best thinking that aligns with your personal and professional goals.
Will the organization pay for my coaching?
Depending on the level you are at, they may.
In my practice, I have found that most executives actually prefer to pay out of their own pockets. They are investing in themselves.
When coaching is initiated through the organisation it creates a three-way relationship between the coach-client-organization.
This can be quite tricky to manage and so some executives prefer to rather engage with coaching outside of the context of the organisation.
I hope that this guide has been helpful to you. I will be updating it regularly as new information is presented to me.
In closing, I believe coaching to be one of the best investments that you can make in yourself. I say this not just as a coach, but as someone who has spent (and continues to spend) a lot of money on coaching for myself.
There is something special about having a relationship with someone dedicated to helping you become the ultimate best version of yourself. There is no other agenda. No other topic for discussion. The only thing that I, as a coach, want to talk about is how I can help you expand into your full potential as leader, partner, parent, and friend.
I hope that you will take the step to invest in coaching.
If you have any questions I am always available to help or to point you in the right direction.
You can reach me via firstname.lastname@example.org